It can be tough being a job seeker. You may find yourself wondering why you aren’t getting interviews for those positions that seem like perfect fits, but the answer is not always in your favor.
Here are the possible reasons why and what to do about them, according to career experts.
There are many reasons why one doesn’t get called for interviews even if they’re qualified. But the most common reasons for not hearing back from recruiters/potential employers are as follows:
By the time jobs get posted on job boards, they are already filled
How candidates apply for jobs is very important—online job boards are like a black hole. If they are applying on online job boards, they will rarely hear from recruiters or employers. The success rate for online job boards to get a job interview is abysmal. By the time jobs get posted on job boards, they are already filled.
Most positions get filled internally. Many employers give a handsome referral bonus ($500-1500!) to current employees who connect them with the right candidates and get hired. These candidates are kind of already whetted because the current employee wouldn’t risk referring a bad candidate.
Plus, the employees feel valued for helping their friends and also for bringing the right kind of talent to the company. The organization does not have to waste time and effort in searching for a great candidate when their own employees can help make the connection.
It simply is a waste of time to keep applying on job boards. The key is to network with employees and recruiters at the companies where they are interested in working. Build a relationship and add value.
Your resume does not clearly reflect your accomplishments
Another common reason people don’t land job interviews is that their resume does not clearly reflect their accomplishments. A common mistake people make when writing a resume is they simply describe their job duties. They fail to write about the value/impact they made on the company where they worked before.
Related: How to Make Your Resume Stand Out
For example: For the position of ER (Emergency Room) Director, they write, “Responsible for quality and patient safety in the emergency department.” This tells the employer nothing.
What they can do instead is highlight their accomplishments by highlighting the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) they impacted. For example: “Facilitated a multidisciplinary team of 10 and reduced ER wait time by 63% from 8-5 hours.”
Employers are looking for how a candidate can add value to their company based on how they added value to their previous company. You want to make your resume compelling for the employer to call you for an interview immediately.
They can do so by highlighting their accomplishments quantitatively as much as possible.
Most candidates lack clarity on what they truly want
When people are chasing someone else’s dream, the job search becomes an overwhelming and exhausting process. Their resume lacks the flare and vitality that one would see in someone else’s who is pursuing what they truly love.
Candidates may have many qualifications and accomplishments, but the pride is lacking in their resume, social media, and even their interactions. Candidates must get clear on their true purpose so they can feel in complete alignment and pursue jobs confidently.
This way, they do not have to apply for 100s jobs and keep twiddling their thumbs, waiting endlessly for that phone call or email to schedule an interview. With the pandemic, more and more people are being called (or forced?) to prioritize themselves to create a fulfilling and purposeful life.
This is a great time to explore what you want and go after it. And may be candidates are doing what they already love, but they just aren’t sure of that. Whatever the case is, get aligned and live your dream full-throttled!
Most candidates think they are qualified for the jobs they are applying for
On paper, they look a great match. However, if they are filled with self-doubt and lack confidence in their abilities, it will negatively impact their chances of landing job interviews. This is especially common when people are applying for positions higher than their current level.
Self-doubt = Loser mindset
For example, let’s say a director applies for a VP position. They can see it on paper they are qualified for the VP level position, and maybe they also got feedback to apply for a VP position.
However, if they are filled with doubt about whether they are eligible or not for that position, they won’t be able to leverage their skills and accomplishments in a manner that would intrigue/entice the recruiters/potential employers.
Candidates must make every effort to nourish their mindset so they can apply for jobs with a winner mindset—this is something they will need help with. We have blind spots to our greatness and our gloriousness. Working with a coach would be a complete game-changer.
Hiring Manager | Educator and Higher Ed Consultant
I have conducted searches at all levels from intern to entry-level, mid-management, and senior leadership and mentored myriad students and new and mid-level professionals.
A question I’m often asked is, “why am I not getting interviews for jobs I’m qualified for?” The following are some possible reasons:
There is a strong applicant pool
Sometimes, there is an incredibly strong applicant pool, which may include internal candidates. You might be one of many highly qualified applicants, and they may choose to interview others who appear to be a better fit.
Your resume and cover letter may not be serving you well
If your qualifications are strong and you’re applying for jobs that you fit well, but you aren’t getting interviews, then your resume and cover letter may not be serving you well.
- Does your resume highlight your accomplishments?
- Does it just summarize your job duties?
- Does your cover letter expand upon your resume to show why you are the right person for this job at this organization?
I don’t like the term “overqualified” because there really is no such thing. You are either qualified, or you’re not. That said, if you have too much experience, the employer may think you would demand a higher salary than they are prepared to pay.
Additionally, if you are out of their geographic area, they may think you’d expect them to pay relocation expenses. If this sounds like you, and you are willing to take a lower salary or relocate at your own expense, put that in your cover letter to reassure the hiring manager that you are affordable.
Career Counselor and Resume Writer, Resume Genius
Not following the job posting’s instructions
If you don’t accurately follow the instructions of a job posting, employers will skip over your application, so make sure you read each job posting carefully before you apply.
You can also contact the hiring person and ask questions about vague instructions. Clarifying instructions shows initiative and can build a rapport, making you more memorable to hiring personnel.
Just be careful with asking too many questions, and don’t ask questions you can easily find the answer to from a Google search.
Not creating a cover letter for every job
Always write a cover letter for every job you apply for, even if the company doesn’t request one because a cover letter:
- Gives you space to share your accomplishments and specific reasons for applying
- Shows you’re a self-motivated candidate
- Personalizes your application and provides more details for employers to learn about you
Employers want to read a compelling cover letter, so write a cover letter that’s not a duplicate of your resume but is unique to you and your career accomplishments.
Connect your experiences directly to the job
Employers appreciate applicants who demonstrate strong reasons for applying for a company, especially if they connect directly back to the company’s culture and values.
So, mention why you’re applying for a company in your resume objective (a 2–4 sentence summary of your career history) at the top of your resume, or write a sentence after each experience in your cover letter that links your previous accomplishments back to the company.
Also, make it less about what you’ll gain, but more about what you’ll give to the company.
Employers love to hear how you want to help their company grow and succeed. So, mention how your previous experiences led to a desire to work for their company or how you’re excited to explore a new career path and work cohesively with your employer.
Provide links to your other professional profiles
Besides the standard resume and cover letter, employers will be impressed if you show them your best projects and area of expertise.
In addition to meeting their job requirements, link employers to your online portfolio or website, or include your LinkedIn profile URL in your resume and cover letter header.
Also, include your other professional accounts such as Behance, Dribble, GitHub, and Twitter so employers can see you’re up-to-date and knowledgeable within your field. Just make sure your profiles are updated and work-appropriate.
Head of People, Tidio
Not adjusting your resume to a specific position
It’s evident when a person simply sends out their CV to dozens of companies without bothering to craft a tailored version for each vacancy.
Companies love to see that the applicant cares about their particular position, that it stands out to them, and that their experience is transferable and adjustable to a specific vacancy.
Tailoring a resume takes time and effort, but it’s an essential first step – every company needs to feel that you dedicated this ‘time and effort’ to them.
Not applying to companies directly and only using job boards
Of course, job boards are there for a reason – it’s an easy and intuitive way to look and apply for the most suitable positions. However, because it’s so easy and fast, companies quickly become flooded with resumes from job boards, and many simply stop going through them.
If there is an alternative, it’s a good choice to apply directly on the company’s website since there is a higher chance your CV will get noticed.
Your resume is too long
This is a mistake, so many well-qualified people make. It’s understandable to want to list all your experiences, but the more you mention, the more chances your CV is being skimmed through and not read properly.
It’s vital to think about the most relevant things to include so that your resume stands out but doesn’t have the length of a book.
Related: How Long Should Your Resume Be
There are a lot of other qualified applicants
There are a lot of other qualified applicants, and companies quickly find a good fit. Sometimes, getting an interview is not only a matter of qualifications and experience but also the speed of application.
Sometimes, companies need to hire urgently and rush to move candidates through the recruitment process. It can be a matter of hours with good positions until recruiters have enough potential hires to contact. Thus, you may simply be too late.
It’s crucial not to put too much hope into one particular vacancy and keep applying, especially to freshly posted positions.
Managing Partner, JobSearcher
You believe they are qualified but the hiring manager does not
Unfortunately, the top reason a candidate is not getting an interview is because they believe they are qualified, but the hiring manager does not. They’ve reviewed your application or resume and passed over you without the courtesy of giving you a response as to why.
Applying to jobs is so quick and easy through many channels.
Hiring managers are inundated with applications, many of which did not even read the full job description and requirements. They cannot or will not take the time to respond to all applicants as to why they are not being considered for the role.
On top of that, many times, when a recruiter or hiring manager notifies a candidate that they are not qualified for the role, it turns into a long conversation of the candidate trying to convince the recruiter that they are qualified.
Many of the applications submitted are never received by the actual hiring manager
Jobs are posted, reposted, and syndicated across so many websites and interstitials put in place to divert the candidate to sign up for an email alert, or build a profile on another site that they never reach the final destination to apply to the role they intended to when they started down that path.
The content of the original listing is often used to lure a candidate onto their unrelated job listings, for which they are getting a fee for advertising. The actual job could be in there somewhere, but it’s not front and center to grab the applicant’s attention.
One method to try and avoid this is to find the company and reach out to them directly.
There are a few options for doing this:
Research, reach out, and apply directly
Suppose the application is housed on a third-party website/job board. In that case, the candidate should apply through there as that might be the preferred method for the employer to capture the information in their applicant tracking system.
Following that, the candidate should do their research and see if the job is also posted on the employer’s website and apply through there as well.
On top of that, the candidate should attempt to find the contact information for the recruiter or hiring manager and reach out to them directly to express their interest in the role and inform them of where they submitted their application.
Very few applicants will do this type of research, and it will greatly increase your chances of being noticed and considered for the role.
Finding the right contact
Send a message through LinkedIn
Obviously, there is LinkedIn to find company and employee info, and that should be utilized to the fullest. Send a message through LinkedIn to the potential hiring manager for the role if you find them.
However, many people do not receive, or they just ignore LinkedIn messages.
Contact the employer through their email or contact form
Next, find the employer website and contact them through the email or form on the site. If the site lists their team and you think you can determine who the hiring manager for the role would be, reach out to them directly.
Research other positions at the company you are interested in and inquire about roles which you would be qualified for but may not be advertised right now.
Most open positions are not advertised, and an employer would consider a qualified candidate if they reached out directly about their desire to work for them.
HR Staff Writer, Fitsmallbusiness
There are several possibilities when it comes to not receiving interview requests for jobs you are highly qualified for. It can be a matter of company error or the need for you to update your resume.
May be due to company error
Businesses that are looking to hire employees are generally filling a spot where work has increased to the point that additional help is required. This typically means the business is overwhelmed.
Depending on whether the company has a dedicated HR department or not, it can mean that resumes are getting overlooked because they don’t have the time to review them.
This is not the fault of the applicant. However, updating your resume and making it stand out can mean the difference in your resume getting looked at or not. Be sure it is pleasing to the eye as well as providing all information necessary to show you qualify for the position.
Nothing about your resume stands out
Is your resume boring? If you only include basic information on your resume, all in the same font and size, it is likely to get overlooked. Nothing about your resume stands out to the interviewer.
Does your resume lack professional experience or qualified skills? Now is the time to update your resume so that it stands out among the competition.
Here are some tips to making your resume get noticed:
- Use a template to create your resume. Many templates offer elements such as color and design to help make your resume pop.
- Include a photo of yourself. This helps the company reviewing your resume make a personal connection with you.
- Include all basic information – name, address, phone number, email address – at the top of the resume.
- Create a summary paragraph that describes your abilities in your chosen field
- Include only relevant past work experience. For example, if you are applying for a job as a Marketing Director, your past job as a lifeguard would not be relevant to that career path. It is advised not to include every job you’ve ever had since you started working, especially if you job jumped for several years. You will have the chance to explain any gaps in your work history at an interview.
- Highlight your education. Be sure to include any degrees that you have (in this case, whether or not they are relevant to the position as companies like to know if you have a Bachelor’s Degree or just a High School diploma). Also, include any certificates or certifications you have in this section that are relevant to the job you are applying for.
- List out your top skills. For example, if you are applying for an Accountant position and you have a high level of experience with Quickbooks, that should be included in your resume.
If your resume is professional and clearly states all your qualifications, it will get noticed. Be sure to read the job descriptions carefully and include notable experience in your resume that aligns with the work needed.
Lastly, but certainly not least, be sure you check your resume for spelling and grammar issues. Resumes can get tossed if they have errors.
Cynthia B. Okonkwo, SHRM – SCP, SPHR
Hiring Manager and HR Professional, HR by Nnamtique
Not having enough relevant keywords
Your resume may not convey your job-related qualifications in a manner that makes it easy for the recruiter or hiring manager to recognize how qualified you are.
These days, most employers use applicant tracking systems that par your resume to pick up on keywords that match the keywords in the vacancy announcement.
Some job seekers focus on fancy instead of content
Some job seekers put extraordinary effort into picking a unique resume layout; however, the recruiter or hiring manager is only interested in the content.
I have seen applicants who had the plainest resume, with an easy-to-read layout that effectively showcased their qualifications, get invited for an interview over other applicants. Also, remember to use your resume “real estate” wisely.
Have a good balance of text and white space on your resume so that the page does not look crowded.
Inappropriate grammar and typos
If you aspire for an office job or any other job requiring written communication, your resume and/or cover letter can not contain grammatical errors and typos. That is a quick path to disqualification by most hiring managers, regardless of your other qualifications.
Even using the free version of Grammarly helps you to write better and minimizes typos. I use it often.
Some applicants include too much information in their resumes
Some applicants include too much information in their resumes. Ideally, your resume should be no more than two, at most, three pages long. A resume much longer than that will likely overwhelm the person reviewing it, and they may lose patience and automatically disqualify you.
Not including a cover letter with your resume
If you are not getting interviews and have not included a cover letter with your resume, you are missing the opportunity to tell a snippet of your career story.
You see, your resume’s purpose is to showcase your job-related qualifications. Your cover letter partners with your resume to tell a short story of how you’ve used the knowledge, skills, and abilities that your resume showcases to solve problems, improve processes, and increase employee performance for your current and former employers.
Unfortunately, many job seekers fail to take advantage of this opportunity to really create a connection with their potential new employer. It is your job to create a vision of you as a member of their team successfully performing the job that you apply to.
Lacking an online professional presence or having a negative online presence
Remember that your personal social presence and your professional online presence should be kept separate. Also, be very careful of the image that you portray in your online social settings.
Many hiring managers, like me, research our selected candidates’ online activity. So, be very selective of the types of settings that you post, or allow others to post about you.
Senior Employment Advisor, VelvetJobs
When it comes to reasons that an individual doesn’t get a job even though they might be qualified for it, there are many. The questions one starts asking themselves are about the cover letter, references, experience, or lack thereof.
- What was wrong?
- Was it too long or too short?
- Did I not give sufficient work experience, or is it that I’m lacking in it?
In essence, this is just an opportunity for you to rethink your approach.
In the meantime, here are some reasons why you could not be getting that job interview.
If your résumé shows that you didn’t stay too long at your previous employment, then they might read a pattern of not staying too long in one place. They could read from this pattern of job-hopping that you might not stay long if employed.
Therefore, to solve this matter, you would need to edit to deemphasize the job-hopping fact.
Unprofessional social media presence
Today, a job interview does not only look at your papers; one’s digital footprint is also analyzed.
Therefore, an individual’s online presence could be the deal-breaker. Meaning that even though one was qualified, their online presence might have raised an eyebrow or two to the extent that the job is never offered.
Generic cover letter
You may be using a generic cover letter and not personalizing it to each job interview. A cover letter is similar to an elevator pitch; one takes the opportunity to sell themselves, their capabilities, and accomplishments. Show your potential employer that you can be an asset to them.
Do your homework on the company you’re applying to and customize your cover letter, don’t make it too long or too short.
Related: How Long Should a Cover Letter Be
Boasted instead of providing data regarding your achievements
We in HR know that the job-seeking process is daunting. It’s tough being patient when you’re waiting to find out if you’ll have the chance to get an interview.
Barriers to an interview
Unfortunately, we can’t interview all of the best candidates. Even some of the most qualified candidates won’t make it to the next level of the recruitment process.
Why? Some possible reasons:
- You haven’t submitted a cover letter
- There was a typo in your application
- You didn’t include keywords from the job advertisement (could mean an Applicant Tracking System scanned your resume or an actual human)
- You didn’t use an appropriate greeting in correspondence (lacking a name or too informal)
- Boasted instead of providing data regarding your achievements
Yes, sorry, but you could be perfect for the job, but if you misspelled something, you’re out of the running!
Tip on getting the interview
- Proofread your resume and cover letter with a fine-toothed comb
- Try your best to find the correct hiring manager to address your cover letter to
- Give specifics on your accomplishments
- Include keywords on your application
- Make sure to show your personality
If you can give us a glimpse into who you are and how that will fit with our company culture, you’ll have a much better chance of meeting your future manager.
Speaker and Career Development Coach
The job has a preferred candidate
The latest statistics and research suggest that over 85% of jobs are filled via networking. Given the high percentage of job openings that this covers, it can be assumed the position you are applying for has a preferred candidate identified.
In this case, it is likely that not many interviews will take place, and therefore your application might not move forward regardless of how qualified you are for the position.
I recommend doing some additional research when applying for a job you are qualified for.
Use tools like LinkedIn to research and contact the recruiter or hiring manager to ask questions. If you find out there is a preferred candidate, it’s still a great way to make a new connection that can serve as a referral for a future position.
Related: 50+ Good Questions to Ask Recruiters
You do not have a relationship with the hiring manager
For most high-profile jobs or jobs requiring a certain level of experience and collaboration, hiring managers prefer to interview and hire candidates they already know or come highly recommended by someone they trust.
This is an efficient way to hire and vet candidates much quicker, especially in fast-paced environments where there is a certain level of urgency to fill the position.
I recommend committing to making new connections consistently. The business environment is always changing, and therefore, your career will also need consistent movement and growth.
One tip I recommend is to identify industries, companies, or specific people whom you’d like to learn more about. Once you’ve identified some contacts, reach out to them directly or via a shared connection in common to request a meeting.
General Manager, Lock Search Group
You only seemed interested in the paycheck
No, you didn’t ask how much your salary would be. In fact, you did not even bring up the money topic, but a hiring manager can tell when someone is looking for a short-term job to earn some money as they look for another job.
For example, if you have 10 years of industry experience and you apply for a job that only requires 1-2 years of experience, that doesn’t reflect well on your candidacy; it shows you just want any job and haven’t considered whether the position is a good fit.
One or more of your references didn’t come through for you
I always advise my clients to prepare their references for a call from the hiring manager.
So many candidates seem to think that employers/hiring managers don’t actually call references, but seasoned hiring managers do, especially now that interviews are being conducted online and employers want to get a really good feeling of a person before hiring them.
Related: When Do Employers Call References
The people you provide as references should definitely vouch for you; let them know that you have included them as referees and to expect a call related to your interview.
You were average during the interview
Interviewers typically speak to tens of candidates for just one position. You might be qualified and did everything right during the interview, but you got lost in the crowd.
You didn’t leave any lasting impression; you didn’t do anything extraordinary to capture the interviewer’s attention.
Think about professional or reasonable gestures that define your personal brand and make you stand out from the crowd. For example, bring a portfolio of your work to the interview, use interesting anecdotes when answering questions, or even compliment the interviewer.
Do something extra that other candidates don’t think of doing, and the interviewer may just call you back.
CEO, Kada Recruiting
Your application got lost in the mix
Even with a bullish job market, some roles get a lot of applicants. I recently posted a Social Media Analyst role on LinkedIn, and within 48 hours, I had over 100 applicants.
I pulled the role down at that point, but that’s not a common practice among recruiters (and with some workflows, it’s not even a possibility).
While I reviewed and got back to everyone, that’s not always the case. Many times a job goes up, a candidate that is qualified comes into the process very early, and everyone from that point forward essentially gets ignored.
Of those 100 applicants, there were zero that followed up with me directly after submitting their application. My contact information wasn’t directly on the job, but it wouldn’t have taken much time to do a quick search and figure out how to get in touch with someone from my agency to follow up.
Whenever someone does follow-up with me, I always make it a point to get back to them.
Whether it’s providing the status of the role (maybe it’s close to being filled or put on hold) or letting the candidate know that they’re not right for the position, at least there’s some closure. The best case scenario, I’m looking at the candidate’s resume first, getting them early into the process.
After applying for a role that you know you’re a slam dunk for, I always recommend to candidates to do their best and find someone on LinkedIn or the company page to reach out to.
Use it as an opportunity to express your interest, show that you’ve done your research, and share your personality.
You may not get a reply every time, but it happens so rarely that you’d be surprised by the response you get. If nothing else, your resume won’t get lost in the mix.
Regional Manager, IS2 Workforce Solutions
You’re not highlighting your accomplishments on your resume
On many occasions, candidates don’t get an interview due to how they present themselves on their resumes. Culturally, Canadians don’t like to brag; it is not within us to be boastful.
However, the resume is one place we as Canadians should brag about our accomplishments.
From a strategic perspective, job hunters need to understand that when companies are recruiting to fill a position, they are looking for the best available candidate, not just someone that has done the job before. Companies would like the successful candidate to be someone that has outperformed their peer group.
Highlighting or adding an “Accomplishments” title along with the “Responsibilities” title is a good way to show the resume screeners (Hiring Managers/Interviewers) that you can do the job and overperform in whatever responsibilities are handed to you.
In many situations, the candidate that understands the value in listing their accomplishments on their resume is the candidate that gets the interview and is hired for the job.
I have spoken to many candidates that say, “I was going to share my accomplishments in the interview,” and my response is always, “If you do not get an interview, you do not have the opportunity to share your accomplishments! List your accomplishments on your resume.”
My recommendation to job hunters would be as follows: On your resume, highlight areas of your past job history where you saved time, saved money, or added value to the company and label these as “Accomplishments.”
These three benefits are of interest to almost every company that is in business and should help you secure your next career opportunity.
CPA | Finance Professional | Founder, Fluent In Finance
Sending the same “generic” resume to multiple positions
The most common reason is due to sending the same “generic” resume to multiple positions. If you really want a job, you must tailor your resume for each unique position. Look at the responsibilities in the job description, and make sure your resume can show that you have accomplished those responsibilities in the past.
Related: How to Tell a Story With Your Resume
The key is showing that your achievements match the employer’s needs. If you can potentially make the hiring manager’s life easier, you will definitely get an interview.
Your resume is too lengthy
Another reason may be due to your resume being too lengthy, causing it to be glanced over rather than read close. This can cause your resume to get lost in the “pile.”
An ideal resume is easy to read and 1 page (depending on experience, you can make it 2 pages). A resume shouldn’t be everything you’ve done but instead, highlight your best accomplishments.
Your resume has spelling and grammatical errors
Maybe that your resume has spelling and grammatical errors. This is a quick fix, as you can run a spell check and ask a few friends or colleagues to take a look for you.
You may have the incorrect contact information
Perhaps you may have the incorrect contact information. Check to make sure your e-mail address and phone numbers are correct and up to date!
Other applicants may be better qualified for the position than you
One reason out of your control is that other applicants may be better qualified for the position than you, or simply that you applied to the job after many other qualified candidates did. Sometimes human resources personnel try to fill positions quickly.
HR Business Partner, Zety
You’re failing to beat applicant tracking systems and reach a pair of human eyes
If you’re having a hard time getting interviews for jobs you’re qualified for; there’s a good chance you’re failing to beat applicant tracking systems and reach a pair of human eyes.
These systems work by running through resumes, comparing them against the job ad, and giving them a relevance score. As a result, recruiters end up with a list of cream-of-the-crop job candidates whose applications likely fit the job description like a plugin a socket.
So, before you submit a job application, skim through the job ad and see what the employer wants. Then, go back to your resume and highlight the work experience and skills the job is looking for.
Plus, because such ATSs aren’t perfect yet, they might trip over certain design elements and reject your application out of confusion. Therefore, it’s good practice to stick to commonly accepted resume formats (e.g., reverse-chronological, functional) and fonts (e.g., Calibri, Helvetica, Georgia).
Lastly, be sure to submit your application in PDF format to ensure the ATS won’t have any trouble reading it.
Executive Associate, Moshes Law
They do not know how to make a self-presentation
Sometimes even highly qualified professionals cannot achieve their dreamwork because they do not know how to make a self-presentation.
Being too shy to include all their skills, or, on the contrary, too self-assured to enumerate everything making up a long list – both variants are doomed to failure.
So, what should be stated in the resume?
- Highlight only the skills needed for the job you are going to get
- Supply all the requested information:
- Do not ignore a single point;
- Do not overestimate your salary requirements not to scare away the would-be employer;
- Do not try to seem overqualified
- Proofread your resume to make sure there are no grammar or spelling mistakes
Founder and CEO, Lensa
Poor use of keywords in resume
You might have the professional and educational experience required for the position, but your resume is doing a poor job of communicating it to employers.
Large companies increasingly use recruitment software and AI to sort through the massive number of resumes they get.
While the machine learning algorithms these programs use are quite sophisticated and capable of a large amount of interpretation, they are still primarily looking for individual and short-tail keywords that let hiring managers know a candidate is qualified.
You can only know what these keywords are by paying careful attention to the job description.
Then, once you believe you have narrowed them down, make sure you incorporate them throughout your CV when describing past work and education experience. This will give your resume the best chance of being flagged.
Co-founder and Editor, The Balance Work
You’re not sending out enough resumes
The number one reason it seems a job seeker isn’t getting a response is that they aren’t sending out enough resumes. As the saying goes, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
It’s not just about how many you send out, but also when and where. In general, I recommend following up with each resume sent out.
You don’t need to be aggressive or annoying, but if you send your resumes out at the very end of the day, they probably aren’t going to get read for a couple of days. If possible, ask when is the best time for them to review resumes.
This way, you can stagger them throughout the day, so it’s more likely that the hiring manager will review your resume.
Your resume isn’t well-written or up to date
It’s possible your resume isn’t getting into the hands of the right person. That could be because you aren’t targeting the position correctly or even looking in the right place.
It might not matter what company you work for — if they don’t feel like it matches their needs/culture, and you haven’t sent a targeted cover letter to explain why you are a good fit for this role, your application will be ignored.
It’s not enough that your resume is formatted correctly or even well written. It needs to match the job you are applying for and show how you can make their lives easier by doing what needs to be done better, faster, and with less effort.
Your cover letter is weak and doesn’t sell me as a candidate for the job
Your cover letter needs to be short and sell you as the best candidate for the job. It should briefly mention why your qualifications are a good fit for the position, explain who referred you if possible, and tell them what they can expect from you if they hire you.
A strong introduction is important because it’s unlikely someone will even read past it.
As a general rule, a hiring manager should get a sense of you in three sentences or less. So make sure your cover letter accurately reflects who you are and what you can bring to the table.
Vice President, Motivosity
You haven’t formatted your resume to be read by an ATS
One of the reasons you aren’t getting interviews for jobs that you’re qualified for could be that you haven’t formatted your resume to be read by an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) – the automated process that pre-qualifies resumes before the hiring manager even looks at them.
Here are a few tips to help ensure your resume passes the ATS and gets into the hands of an actual human:
Use keywords strategically
The ATS is simply scanning for keywords such as job skills and key phrases from the job description. Try to use the same words and phrases from the job post in your resume to ensure they’re caught by the AI scan.
Don’t use fancy formatting
Fancy formatting may look nice, but it can confuse the AI that’s scanning your resume. Keep things simple in terms of fonts and layout. You can always bring a fancier version with you to the interview to give to the hiring manager in person if you’d like.
Always include a cover letter, even if it says it’s optional
A cover letter is another place to work in keywords and increase the likelihood of the AI system passing your resume along to a person. It’s also a great way to show off your personality before you meet the hiring manager, which can help you get selected for an interview.
You might not be getting interviews if your application is missing a cover letter
Cover letters are designed to interest the employer and encourage them to read the rest of your resume.
If you don’t include one as part of your job application, employers won’t know the extent to which you meet their professional expectations. As a result, they’re much more likely to overlook your candidacy.
To maximize your chances of moving forward into the interview stage:
- Include a cover letter that showcases your qualifications, values, goals, and work history.
- Explain just how your past experience applies to the role you’re applying for, and paint a clear picture of why you’re the candidate they’re looking for.
Remember: Hiring managers review hundreds of job applications every week. Make their jobs as easy as possible by being proactive, upfront, and thorough about your key competencies and skill set.
Career Advisor | Founder, Worklivion
You have a resume and cover letter that doesn’t pass the Applicant Tracking System
The biggest reason, you have a resume (and cover letter) that doesn’t pass the ATS (Applicant Tracking System). You may think you are qualified enough for the position, but before an application reaches the hands of a real HR professional (a human one), it must pass through an electronic filter.
If you don’t prepare your resume and cover letter wisely, you cannot move to the first phase. So:
- An average job gets 50 to 70 applications, but only 4 to 6 people are called for an interview.
- A busy HR team doesn’t waste time by looking for every single application. Rather the ATS eliminates almost 90% of the applications (the ones seen as irrelevant or less relevant).
- Work on your resume and turn it into a professional structure by adding job and company-specific “keywords.”
- Don’t use long sentences or complicated structures. Remember, you need to beat an AI, first.
Director of Marketing & Content, Divorce Answers
There are unexplained gaps in your career
Glaring gaps on your resume could be a warning flag for a prospective employer. They will at least question what you were doing during the time you weren’t gainfully employed.
There are methods you may make work gaps less visible on your resume, so you have a better opportunity at securing an interview.
Unprofessional social media presence
Because of your online presence, you may have become a less attractive candidate. It’s a good idea to have a glance over your social media before applying for another job.
- Did you modify your privacy settings with care?
- Are all available resources at hand for public use?
- Did you make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and includes all of your relevant skills?
Community Manager, LiveCareer
Resume not tailored to the job description
Many candidates forget that it’s not only about their skills and professional experience that recruiters look at. While there are some must-have skills that you need to perform a particular job, other factors impact your application too.
One of them is showing what unique value you can bring to the company. Recruiters want to see that you know what their organization stands for and how you can help it achieve its goals.
On top of that, hiring managers also evaluate if you could be a good cultural fit for their company. From my experience, talented candidates can often get the skills or qualifications they’re missing. It’s much harder to change their attitude and motivation that are crucial for successful cooperation.
My advice is to tailor your resume to a specific position rather than send general documents to different employers.
The more you show that you invested time and effort to get to know the company, the higher your chances of getting an in-person interview. Don’t make the mistake of focusing too much on your skills without reflecting on the actual value you can bring to the table.
Show your recruiter that you’re willing to go the extra mile to get to know the company and use your skills in a way that will contribute to its long-term success.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I improve my qualifications for the jobs I want?
If you consistently fail to get interviews for jobs for which you’re qualified, it may be time to reconsider and improve your qualifications. Here are some steps you can take:
Continue your education or complete training: Consider taking courses, certifications, or additional degrees to improve your qualifications in your desired field.
Gain relevant experience: Look for opportunities to gain experience in your desired field, even if only through volunteer work or internships. This will help you build your skills and demonstrate your interest in the field.
Expand your skills: Find out what areas you could use more experience or knowledge in and work to build those skills. This could mean taking online courses, attending workshops or conferences, or working with a mentor.
Seek feedback: If you’re consistently not getting interviews, seeking feedback on your application or interviewing skills can be helpful. Reach out to a career coach or mentor to learn how to improve.
How long is the job search expected to take?
The length of a job search can vary greatly depending on many factors, such as the industry, location, level of the position, and competition in the job market. Some job searches take only a few weeks, while others may take several months or even longer.
It’s important to be patient and persistent in your job search and keep working toward your goals, even if it takes longer than expected. Remember that the job search process can be unpredictable, and rejection is a normal part of the process.
How important is mindset in the job search?
Mindset is extremely important in the job search. Job searching can be a difficult and sometimes demotivating process, but having a positive and resilient mindset can make a big difference in your success.
Here are some reasons why mindset is vital in the job search process:
Keeps you motivated: A positive mindset can help you stay motivated even when the job search gets tough. It can help you stay focused on your goals and keep working toward them.
Helps you deal with rejection: Rejections are a normal part of the job search process, and a positive attitude can help you deal with rejections constructively. It helps you stay resilient and move forward in your search.
Improves your self-confidence: A positive attitude can boost your confidence, which can be important when making contacts, interviewing, and negotiating job offers.
Helps you stay flexible: The job search process can be unpredictable, and a positive attitude can help you stay flexible and open to different possibilities.
What impresses an interviewer?
What impresses an interviewer can vary by company and job, but here are some things that can generally leave a positive impression:
Good communication skills: The ability to express yourself clearly and concisely is an essential skill in many jobs, so practice your communication skills before the interview.
Demonstrated knowledge of the company: Doing research on the company and showing that you understand its mission, values, and products or services can show that you’re truly interested in the position.
Relevant experience and skills: Highlighting your relevant experience and skills can show the interviewer that you’re qualified for the job and can hit the ground running if hired.
Enthusiasm and a positive attitude: Being enthusiastic about the job and the company will leave a positive impression on the interviewer. Be engaged and present during the interview and show a positive attitude towards the company and the work.
Ask thoughtful questions: Asking thoughtful questions about the company or the job can show that you’re interested in learning more and that you’re invested in the opportunity.
How do you deal with multiple job rejections?
Dealing with multiple job rejections can be tough, but here are some strategies to help you cope:
Take a break: It’s important to take a break from the job search from time to time. Take time to do things you enjoy and to take care of yourself.
Get feedback: If you keep getting rejections, it can be helpful to get feedback on your application or interview skills. Reach out to a career coach or mentor to learn how to improve.
Stay positive: Try to maintain a positive attitude throughout the job search process, even when things get difficult. Remember that rejection does not reflect your worth as a person and that the right job is out there for you.
Expand your job search: Consider expanding your job search to other industries or locations or look for opportunities to gain additional experience or skills.
Seek support: Talk to friends and family members about your job search and seek support from others who are also on the job hunt. Joining a job search support group or working with a career coach can also be helpful.
What are the red flags in a resume?
Employment gaps: Large gaps in employment on a resume can raise questions with potential employers about why the applicant did not work during that time.
Inconsistent work history: Frequent job changes or a short tenure in previous positions can make an applicant appear unreliable or difficult to work with.
Spelling and grammatical errors: Typos or grammatical errors on a resume can indicate a lack of attention to detail, which can concern employers.
Lack of relevant experience: A resume that does not include the experience relevant to the job may indicate that the applicant is not suitable for the position.
Too much personal information: Too much personal information, such as religious or political affiliation, can make an applicant appear unprofessional or cause legal problems for the employer.
Unprofessional email address: An unprofessional email address that contains inappropriate language or references to drugs or alcohol can leave a negative impression on potential employers.
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